I didn’t grow up eating much seafood. My mom wasn’t a huge fan back then and, honestly, fresh seafood isn’t exactly abundant in Oklahoma City. You can get all the lake fish you want–expertly fried–but not so much with shellfish.
As a kid, I remember a family vacation where my grandpa ordered mussels at dinner. I was probably about seven and was baffled that my grandpa was going to eat what I could only comprehend as “muscles.” When his plate arrived, Grandpa was thrilled, but I was so confused. I mean, who eats seashells for dinner? Thankfully, I’ve had some pretty great food experiences since then and the scope of my culinary knowledge is much wider.
Over Fourth of July week, I was in Kiawah Island, SC with my friends. We’re fortunate enough to go nearly every year because one of the girl’s parents own an absolutely gorgeous home there and are always willing to let us stay in it. This year they were at the house with all of us and we had a blast. They’ve been on a mussels kick lately and were dying to share this recipe with us. I am so glad they did because it is an unbelievable dish. The slightly salty and tender mussels pair perfectly with the spicy chorizo and rich cream. The tomatoes and white wine add just the right amount of acidity to balance everything out. With a basket of crusty bread slices for sopping up the sauce and a glass of white wine, you’ve got yourself one heck of a meal. If you’re looking for your first foray into mussels, this is it.
*photo credit to my friend’s dad–thanks for the help!*
Mussels with Chorizo and White Wine
8 oz. fresh chorizo (hot Italian sausage will work if you can’t find chorizo)
3 TBSP unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. fennel seed
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
7 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
3/4 c. white wine
1/2 c. heavy cream, divided
4 TBSP finely chopped parsley leaves, divided
4 lbs. fresh mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 loaf French bread, sliced and toasted or grilled
1. Brown chorizo in a large, deep sauté pan (Make sure it has a properly fitting lid–you’ll need it later.) over medium-high heat. Remove meat with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Drain all but 1 TBSP fat from the pan. Add butter and melt.
2. When butter is melted, add onions, shallot, fennel seeds, and pepper. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally, then add garlic and tomatoes and cook 2 minutes more.
3. Add mussels to the pan, then add wine, 1/4 c. cream, and 2 TBSP parsley. Bring mixture to a boil. Stir mussels, then cover and cook until shells have opened, 6-8 minutes. Remove mussels from pan to one large serving bowl or individual bowls. Discard any shells that did not open.
4. Bring juice in pan back to a boil for 3 minutes. Add cooked chorizo and remaining cream. Boil 1 minute more, then pour juices over mussels and garnish with remaining parsley. Serve immediately with bread.
Yields: 4 entrée or 8 appetizer servings